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Kiss art of medicine goodbye

The new contract is, quite simply, ludicrous. Quite why our negotiators were sold down the river will never be clear, but one thing is certain ­ the Department of Health considers present-day general practice insufficiently measured to be worth investing in and wants to replace the doctor-patient relationship with a doctor-data relationship.

I have been a full-time GP for 18 years. I value my role as patients' advocate; I value the time I can give to listen to the patients' concerns during the consultation. I value the chance to practise whole-person medicine and to attempt

to diagnose important diseases early. I value preventive medicine.

I have used an Emis IT solution to record relevant data on my patient contacts for nearly 12 years. All of what I value has to be crammed into a 10-minute appointment, with data entry largely taking place after the patient leaves the room.

While clinically directed data recording is important, it is the ridiculous nature of the whole performance indicator process that I object to.

Any sane clinician knows that our job at the coal face is difficult enough. Dealing with patients is difficult. I care enough to want to do my job well. But I am left with the overwhelming impression that the department considers us unfeeling machines.

I have heard it said that senior civil servants regard the art of medicine as dead; that it should be replaced with a pure data-driven thought process, a sea of guidelines and protocols in which we hapless GPs swim, only to drown in the flood of rising patient demands.

If this contract is voted in we can kiss goodbye to the art of medicine. Our patients will be left feeling bewildered.

Dr Nicolas Down

Dr NAC Down



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